New York Mets: John Farrell

TC: Removing R.A. tough call

May, 22, 2012
5/22/12
11:11
PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- Terry Collins acknowledged it was a difficult decision to pinch hit for R.A. Dickey with the knuckleballer having limited the Pirates to one run through seven innings. But the manager wanted to take a shot with Pirates starter James McDonald having departed and Dickey's slot due up first in the top of the eighth.

So Collins inserted Andres Torres in the 1-all game. Torres struck out to extend his skid to 1-for-his-last-34, but the Mets ultimately scored a pair of runs in the inning and held on for a 3-2 win on Tuesday night. Dickey notched his sixth win, taking a share of the NL lead, at least for the moment.

Gene J. Puskar/Associated PressR.A. Dickey struck out a career-high 11 before
being pulled for a pinch hitter.


"When Andres strikes out, you say to yourself, 'Well, hell, R.A. could have done that,'" Collins said. "You're trying to do something. We're not swinging the bats right now. We had to try to see if we could get somebody on and get something started."

Said Dickey: "They were pitching well, too, and you've got to take a shot. I understood completely. He's got to do what he thinks is the best thing to do to win the ballgame. He's got faith in the bullpen. If Andres gets on there, it might start a rally. He's got a lot better shot than I do. Let's put it that way."

Dickey had a career-high 11 strikeouts and said he felt like he "grew" as a pitcher. He meant that he was able to control his knuckleball and have it move in the direction he wanted. Catcher Mike Nickeas said one of Dickey's most effective movements with the pitch was to have it seemingly dance upward as it approached the batter.

Dickey only threw three fastballs among his 88 pitches. The rest were knuckleballs.

In recent games, Dickey's knuckleball had been hit by opponents the third time through the order. So he had contemplated with pitching coach Dan Warthen and Nickeas going to a more conventional arsenal as the game progressed this time. But the knuckleball was so effective he never needed to deviate from using it.

"It was consistently good throughout the game, which was nice," Dickey said. "A lot of times it will leave and then come back. But tonight I felt like I had a really good one, and I had a couple of different kinds of knuckleballs tonight, which was really fun.

"I had the best feel of it. I could make it do different things, which not very often am I able to do that. A lot of times you throw it and it does what it's going to do. Tonight, mechanically, I was in a place where I could get it do a couple of different things when I wanted it to. And that's fun. That was the difference. It's not always like that."

Tim Byrdak produced another key out, striking out lefty-hitting Pedro Alvarez to end the eighth and preserve the 3-2 lead for Frank Francisco to close out the game in the ninth. Yet with Byrdak on pace for 98 appearances, which would shatter Pedro Feliciano's club record of 92, Collins said he needs to use his second lefty, Robert Carson, as well in those situations -- for better or worse. Carson only has appeared in one major league game so far. And that was in Toronto with the Mets trailing by 13 runs.

"I've got to get Robert Carson in some of these games," Collins said. "Otherwise, Tim is going to really get tired here lately. I've got to get Robert some work -- in the tough situation. If he's going to pitch here, he's got to get used to it."

• Francisco tossed a 1-2-3 ninth and was locating his pitches far better than other recent outings. It was only the fourth time in 20 appearances as a Met that the closer did not surrender a hit or walk.

"I think Sunday's game was a huge stepping point for him," Collins said, referring to Francisco striking out three straight Blue Jays, while pitching against his former employer, to protect a lead after allowing the first two batters to reach.

Collins said Toronto manager John Farrell advised his Mets counterpart to "be patient [with Francisco], because it's there."

Francisco said he never lost confidence in himself and recognized it's not always going to be smooth sailing.

"If you stay around, you're going to see a lot of those bad games," Francisco said. "I'm ready for anything."

A reporter asked Francisco in the clubhouse postgame if he was "back."

"What do you see outside?" Francisco said.

"Looks that way," the reporter said.

"OK," Francisco said. "Cool."

Series Preview: Mets at Blue Jays

May, 18, 2012
5/18/12
10:00
AM ET
US Presswire/Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Henderson Alvarez this weekend in interleague play.
METS (21-17, third place/NL East) vs. TORONTO BLUE JAYS (21-18, third place/AL East)

Friday: LHP Jon Niese (2-1, 3.40) vs. LHP Ricky Romero (4-1, 3.88), 7:07 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Miguel Batista (1-1, 4.26) vs. RHP Brandon Morrow (4-2, 2.22), 1:07 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (2-3, 5.65) vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez (3-3, 2.62), 1:07 p.m. ET

Blue Jays short hops

• Third baseman Brett Lawrie withdrew his appeal and began serving a four-game suspension Thursday stemming from throwing a helmet near Bill Miller, which bounced and then hit the plate umpire. With Lawrie out for the weekend series against the Mets, Toronto promoted Yan Gomes, who went 2-for-3 in his major league debut Thursday against the Yankees while starting at third base. The 24-year-old Gomes, the first Brazilian-born player to appear in the majors, was hitting .359 with five homers and 22 RBIs at Triple-A Las Vegas. He played high school baseball in Miami, then at the University of Tennessee and Barry University. In the minors, Gomes played 149 games at catcher, 29 at first base and 10 at third base.

John Williamson/MLB Photos via Getty ImagesFormer Cardinal Colby Rasmus is in an 0-for-18 rut.


The Blue Jays demoted Adam Lind to clear the roster spot for Gomes, despite Lind being in the third season of a four-year, $18 million contract. Lind hit .305 with 35 homers and 114 RBIs with Toronto in 2009, but had only a .186 average and three homers in 118 at-bats this season.

• Right fielder Jose Bautista -- who led the majors in homers each of the past two seasons, with 54 and then 43 -- launched his 10th homer of 2012 on Thursday, against the Yankees' Phil Hughes. Bautista, despite an uncharacteristic .207 average, has five homers in his past seven games. Bautista was part of the three-team trade in July 2004 between the Mets, Pirates and Royals that landed Kris Benson in New York.

• DH/first baseman Edwin Encarnacion worked with Luis Mercedes in the Dominican Republic during the offseason to retool his swing, including keeping both hands on the bat, rather than removing the top hand on the follow-through. Mercedes previously had worked with the Yankees' Robinson Cano. The result: Encarnacion leads the Jays in homers with 13. He also ranks second in the AL in RBIs with 34, trailing only Texas' Josh Hamilton.

• Shortstop Yunel Escobar, who had been hitless in eight at-bats, returned to the lineup Thursday after sitting a day and produced singles in his first two at-bats. Eleven-time Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel, 45, started at shortstop for the second time this season on Wednesday. Escobar was acquired from the Atlanta Braves on July 14, 2010, with Jo-Jo Reyes for Alex Gonzalez, Tyler Pastornicky and Tim Collins.

Ricky Romero and Justin Turner were college teammates for three seasons and roommates at Cal State Fullerton.

• Center fielder Colby Rasmus is mired in an 0-for-18 skid that has dropped his average to .203. He was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals at last season's trading deadline with Trever Miller, Brian Tallet and P.J. Walters for Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, Corey Patterson and Marc Rzepczynski.

• Right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who made his major league debut last August, has produced a quality start in seven of eight outings this season. He tossed his first career shutout May 4 against the Angels in Anaheim.

• Toronto signed previously unemployed Vladimir Guerrero to a minor league deal. He arrived at the Jays' complex in Dunedin, Fla., Tuesday.

• Right-hander Brandon Morrow has walked a combined eight batters in his past two outings, albeit while striking out 17 in 11 innings during that span. Morrow's fastball has averaged 92.8 mph this season, down from 93.9 mph a season ago and a career-high 95.5 mph in 2008 with the Seattle Mariners while primarily working in relief.

• Closer Sergio Santos, who had 30 saves with the Chicago White Sox last season, is on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Casey Janssen is 3-for-3 in save chances this month since assuming the role. Francisco Cordero struggled in the role for the Blue Jays, who lead the AL in blown saves, so the team turned to Janssen. The Mets' Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch comprised the back end of Toronto's bullpen last season.

• The Blue Jays are among the most radical defensive shifters in the majors under second-year manager John Farrell. Toronto leads the American League in errors, too.

• Second baseman Kelly Johnson was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks last Aug. 23 for John McDonald and Aaron Hill.

• Catcher J.P. Arencibia homered in consecutive games against the Yankees to increase his season total to five.

• Ex-Mets left-hander Darren Oliver has limited opponents to a .182 average. He has struck out 11 and walked one in 13 innings spanning 15 relief appearances.

Matchups

Niese vs. Jays (career: never faced)
Kelly Johnson .400, 1 BB, 3 K, 11 PA
Ben Francisco .250, 4 BB, 3 K, 17 PA
Yunel Escobar .000, 4 BB, 6 PA
Jeff Mathis .000, 1 K, 2 PA

Batista vs. Jays (career: 3-2, 1.70 ERA)
Adam Lind .667, 1 RBI, 6 PA
Rajai Davis .500, 1 BB, 3 PA
Omar Vizquel .417, 1 RBI, 6 BB, 2 K, 30 PA
Ben Francisco .250, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 K, 8 PA
Jose Bautista .222, 1 BB, 3 K, 10 PA
Jeff Mathis .200, 1 RBI, 1 K, 8 PA
Edwin Encarnacion .000, 2 K, 4 PA
Kelly Johnson .000, 1 BB, 2 PA
Yunel Escobar .000, 1 K, 1 PA

Gee vs. Jays (career: never faced)
Kelly Johnson .000, 1 K, 3 PA
Ben Francisco .000, 1 PA

Romero vs. Mets (career: never faced)
Rob Johnson 1.000, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 6 PA
Justin Turner 1.000, 2 RBI, 1 PA
Scott Hairston .333, 6 PA
Ronny Cedeno .000, 1 K, 3 PA

Morrow vs. Mets (career: 0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Ronny Cedeno .667, 1 RBI, 3 PA
Andres Torres .333, 3 PA
Scott Hairston .000, 3 PA

Alvarez vs. Mets (career: never faced)

Last series results

Mets won, 2-1, at Rogers Centre, June 23-25, 2006 (AP game recaps)

Mets 6, Jays 1: Tom Glavine became baseball's first 11-game winner, David Wright hit a three-run homer and New York set a club record with its ninth straight road victory. Lastings Milledge also homered for the Mets, and Glavine (11-2) pitched seven strong innings to win his ninth consecutive decision. But it might have been a costly victory because setup man Duaner Sanchez, a key member of New York's stellar bullpen, left after only two pitches with a pinched nerve in his neck. Carlos Delgado went 0-for-3 with a walk in his first game against his former team. Delgado, Toronto's career leader in home runs and RBIs, left as a free agent two years ago after the club didn't offer him a multiyear contract. Xavier Nady hit an RBI triple with two outs in the first. Wright gave New York 4-0 lead in the third with his 18th homer, a shot to left off starter Casey Janssen (5-6).

Jays 7, Mets 4: Vernon Wells homered twice and the Blue Jays ended the Mets' franchise-record nine-game road winning streak. Wells hit a three-run homer in the second off Orlando Hernandez (4-7) and a solo shot off Heath Bell in the seventh for his fifth multi-homer game of the season. Toronto's center fielder went 2-for-4, raising his average to .321. Staked to a 6-0 lead in the second, Toronto ace Roy Halladay (9-2) allowed four runs and 10 hits, while striking out four and walking none in 7 1/3 innings. The Mets loaded the bases in the eighth, but reliever Justin Speier got Jose Valentin to pop out and Xavier Nady to strike out swinging to end the threat. B.J. Ryan pitched the ninth for his 21st save in 22 chances. Jose Reyes tripled and went 4-for-5 for the Mets. He has a 12-game hitting streak and is 28-for-52 (.538). Hernandez (4-7) was forced to leave his start early in the second inning after the Mets were charged with two trips to the mound. Pitching coach Rick Peterson went out to the mound in the inning and manager Willie Randolph made a trip after Hernandez almost ignited a bench-clearing brawl by throwing a pitch high and tight to Troy Glaus after Wells hit his three-run homer a pitch before.

Mets 7, Jays 4: Jose Reyes had four hits again, including a leadoff homer, and Carlos Beltran hit a three-run shot off Josh Towers (1-9). The streaking Reyes went 4-for-5 for the second consecutive game and the third time in five days. He extended his hitting streak to 13 games and is on a 32-for-57 (.561) tear that's raised his batting average from .246 to .302. It was his fifth game this season with at least four hits, tying Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki for tops in the major leagues. Reyes also got his big league-leading 34th stolen base and scored twice. Steve Trachsel (6-4) won his fourth straight start, allowing four runs and six hits in five innings. He struck out two and walked three. Billy Wagner pitched a scoreless ninth for his 15th save in 19 chances.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
8 3.99 89 121
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .297
HRL. Duda 14
RBIL. Duda 48
RD. Murphy 56
OPSL. Duda .841
ERAJ. Niese 2.96
SOZ. Wheeler 105